Dozens Killed In Israeli Strikes On Gaza, Says Health Ministry

Israeli strikes have killed dozens more people, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Thursday, including in the territory’s south where Israel has intensified operations.

In the occupied West Bank, where violence has surged alongside the war in Gaza, an Israeli raid continued into a second day around Tulkarem, an official said. Palestinian sources reported a sixth person had been killed in the operation.

The latest violence came as medicine for hostages held by Hamas and fresh aid for civilians entered the Palestinian territory under a newly brokered deal, mediator Qatar said.

The measure provided at least some relief in a region where tensions flared further following Pakistani strikes on an Iranian border region, and new US military action targeting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Gaza’s health ministry said 93 people had been killed, including 16 in one strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, where many people have fled.

“The strike left 16 killed, among them women and children, and 20 injured,” the ministry said.

A man sat quietly among the rubble after one strike in Rafah, his head bowed, examining a child’s glove.

Umm Walid al-Zamli said she lost her children, and her house.

“The eldest was a second-grade girl,” she said in a choked voice. “What did they do wrong? We can’t rely on anyone, or the Arabs. We can only rely on ourselves.”

The Hamas government reported dozens of strikes, including on the southern city of Khan Yunis and Palestinian refugee camps in central Gaza.

An explosion sounded before a heavy grey cloud of smoke rolled over central-southern Gaza in the early afternoon, live AFPTV images showed.

Israel’s military on Thursday said dozens of operatives had been killed over the previous day in Khan Yunis, where it reported battles ongoing.

– ‘Moment of relief’ –

Fighting has ravaged Gaza since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel that resulted in the death of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel is conducting relentless bombardment and a ground offensive. These have killed at least 24,448 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, children and adolescents, according to health ministry figures.

Hamas seized about 250 hostages during the October 7 attacks, around 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza.

At least 27 hostages are believed to have been killed, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures. The fate of those still in captivity has gripped Israeli society, leading to pressure on the government for their release.

UN agencies say greater aid access is urgently needed to Gaza, where famine and disease threatens.

Qatar said late Wednesday that medicine for hostages and aid had entered Gaza under the agreement announced the day before, following French and Qatari mediation.

It said earlier two planes had arrived in the Egyptian city of El-Arish near Gaza with 61 tonnes of aid provided by Qatar and France.

The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the deal as “a much-needed moment of relief”, under which 45 hostages are expected to receive medication.

– Baby Bibas –

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the army was hitting Khan Yunis particularly hard to dismantle the Hamas leadership, which the army says has already been done in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military says 193 soldiers have been killed in Gaza since ground operations began in late October.

The war has displaced roughly 85 percent of Gazans, the UN says. Many have crowded into shelters where they struggle to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

At Israel’s Nir Oz kibbutz, Yossi Schneider is clinging to hope for his relative Kfir Bibas, a baby, despite Hamas’s announcing his death, along with that of his brother and mother.

The youngest hostage was less than nine months old when Hamas snatched him from his bed on October 7. He would be celebrating his first birthday on Thursday.

“We are thinking about them every day, every second, every minute,” Schneider said.

– Iranian strikes –

In the West Bank, violence has escalated to a level not seen since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, of 2000-05.

Army raids and attacks by settlers have killed about 360 people in the territory, according to its health ministry.

The losses are also economic. The World Bank has estimated the West Bank’s gross domestic product could fall by six percent this year.

The Palestinian Red Crescent on Thursday reported a man killed by “an occupation bullet in the chest” in Nur Shams camp near Tulkarem, where an Israeli raid continued about 30 hours after it began, said Rami Elyan, an official in Nur Shams.

“Like every time, bulldozers destroyed the roads and some homes,” he said.

Israeli forces killed 10 people in the West Bank on Wednesday, the ministry and the army said.

Five were killed inside Tulkarem refugee camp, according to the ministry, while Israel’s military confirmed an air strike that killed “a number of terrorists” during a raid there.

In the latest incident to unsettle the Middle East, Iranian state media said Pakistani strikes Thursday on an Iranian border region killed nine people. Pakistan said it had targeted militants.

This followed a rare Iranian air strike, late on Tuesday, which Iranian media said targeted a group which in December claimed the killing of at least 11 Iranian policemen.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards earlier said they had destroyed the “Zionist regime’s spy headquarters in the Kurdistan region of Iraq”. Tehran also launched attacks on targets in Syria.

Israel has exchanged regular cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

US forces late Wednesday said they conducted a fourth round of strikes on areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-backed Huthi rebels who have disrupted shipping in the Red Sea. The US military said it struck 14 Huthi missiles that were loaded to be fired.

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